Camp uplifts, teaches professionalism to young women
Tia’s Junior All-Star Academy is not your average summer camp. The lessons these young women learned will change them for the better and stick with them for the rest of their lives.
Camp founder Tia Brewer-Footman is a former television news reporter turned celebrity branding strategist. For her, the camp is a way to “pay it forward.”
“I see me in them ... My mother was my first speech coach. There were powerful women in my life who mentored me. That changed my life,” Brewer-Footman said.
The two-day camp was held at Trident Technical College last Friday and Saturday and was centered on three principles: “Celebrate her brilliance, stretch her vision capacity and affirm her world of possibilities.”
Classes for the 9- to 18-year-olds included public speaking taught by Brewer-Footman and posture taught by personal development and model coach Nina Nesbitt. Other classes included Christian yoga; social, dining and internet etiquette; self-esteem; and giving back to the community.
Sylvia White has brought young women from her church, New Life Christian Fellowship in Goose Creek, to the camp for the past two years. She said the girls from last year still talk about the camp to this day.
“When girls know who they are early in life, it gives them the power to make brilliant, authentic choices. They learn about this vision and they are empowered to make these choices,” White said. She also has a program to empower youth called Visions Kids Network, a nonprofit for boys and girls in low-income neighborhoods.
Brewer-Footman said she got the idea for the camp only eight weeks before it started for the first time last year. She said she remembers the positive influences in her life as a child and attributes her success to their guidance. She said she wishes she could spend all year with “her girls,” but chose to have them vote on a protege to take under her wing for an entire year. She hopes to expand the camp to a year-long program in the next few years.
“By the time this is over we’re going to be family,” Brewer-Footman told the girls as she hugged every single one of them on the first day of camp.
On the last day of camp the girls voted on Berkeley High School senior Kelsey Stephens, an aspiring pediatrician, to be this year’s protege.
“Most girls don’t have confidence and look to others,” Stephens said. She said she wanted to attend the camp to not only empower herself, but also to be a positive influence to her peers.
Last year’s protege, Teriah Crabtree, a senior at Military Magnet Academy, aspires to attend Johns Hopkins University to become an anesthesiologist. She was supposed to come back this year as a mentor, but she was attending a summer program at Johns Hopkins.
“I’ve always seen Mrs. Tia on television, but (the camp) was my first time meeting her. I’m very humbled to be able to work with her,” Teriah said last year.
The woman who made Brewer-Footman who she is today, her mother Patricia Brewer-Frazier, was there for support, too.
“It’s just an awesome feeling to see her evolve,” Brewer-Frazier said. “Coming from a small town, statistically she shouldn’t be here.”
Brewer-Footman said it is important for parents to “speak life” into their children. She also advises them to spend meaningful, quality time with their children and get them involved in things that keep their minds active.
“It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. There are things out there that are free. Never let them sit idle,” Brewer-Frazier said.
Brewer-Frazier taught a “Mom to Mom” session for parents this year and the year before.
“She’s just an awesome lady. Her story about being a single mother raising children is very touching and one that any mother can relate to,” Teriah Crabtree’s mother, Shanteisha Crabtree, a single parent herself, said of Brewer-Frazier last year.
Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560 or firstname.lastname@example.org.